Creating Interest Among Passive Candidates

In today’s competitive search market, it may just take a bit more than a creative voicemail or a tasty phrase in your cold-call in order to entice a passive candidate to entertain a better opportunity.

Within my own very tight market in Hawaii, unemployment is at an all-time low and potential passive candidates deal with a barrage of cold-calls and emails from recruiters looking to fill positions with top talent. A more progressive strategy for finding these candidates could make all the difference in your search.

Creating interest is perhaps the most important goal in obtaining a passive candidate. You may be presenting your opportunity with the same approach that other recruiters or consultants use. It behooves you to take a different approach. It is so easy today for a candidate to delete an email, or hit No. 3 and erase a voicemail, so whatever you say must attract interest and whatever you provide must be eye-catching.

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In your goal to create interest, a face-to-face meeting, whether over lunch or coffee, always provides you with the best way to present your opportunity.

Let’s look at some creative ways to get that meeting and create interest:

  1. Assemble opportunity portfolios. This is a creative way that I use to cold-contact a passive candidate. It consists of a folder or portfolio that is personally addressed to the contact. Inside the portfolio is a snapshot of the opportunity for which I am contacting them and an invitation to lunch or coffee. I hand-write this invitation. A lot of passive candidates receive regular solicitation on the phone for a potential opportunity, and while this is a time-tested and proven way of contacting candidates, it also can be very uncomfortable for some. A portfolio or folder is a great way to market to these candidates.
  2. Email your opportunity on a video clip. Shoot a video explaining why you are contacting them and personally address them in this video. Something like: “Hello, Mike, my name is Joe Smith, and I am sending you this email because I would like the opportunity to speak with you about an opportunity with a different company. Please accept my invitation in confidence over lunch or coffee. Thank you.” This is a basic and simple invitation, but it is effective in opening up lines of communication.
  3. Update your selling skills. I took a course a couple of years ago (“Professional Selling Skills” by the company Achieve Global), and since recruiting and sales share a parallel, it may be helpful to give your selling skills a boost. I enjoyed this course in particular because it focuses on helping your customer and gets you involved in open- and closed-probe question interactions and provides more of a consultative approach. Like a professional athlete, it is important to practice and continually work hard to improve your game so that you will get better at it.
  4. Find an attention getter. If you’re old enough, you remember a 1977 movie called Smokey and the Bandit. Jackie Gleason’s character is Sheriff Buford T. Justice, and in the opening scenes of the movie he walks up behind a car thief, kicks him in the butt, and says, “That was an attention getter.” I’m not suggesting that you kick your potential candidate, but like Sheriff Justice you must do something unexpected and painless to get their attention! My attention-getter is opportunity portfolios with a handwritten note. Yours can be anything really, as long as it is creative, different, and allows you to make initial contact.
  5. Remember that privacy is paramount. A majority of passive candidates will listen to what you have to say about an opportunity, but privacy should direct your actions. A lot of passive candidates are uncomfortable about engaging for the simple fact that it may not be a comfortable time and place. Know how to contact them without putting them in a situation that may initially make them feel concerned about confidentiality. If you show concern for their confidentiality, initially it will put a potential candidate at ease and will also help open up the lines of communication.
  6. Know the value of importance. Have you ever heard about the rule of psychological reciprocity? The rule states that if you give a person credit for his or her intelligence, they are mentally and morally bound to give you credit for yours. I like to credit them for their present and past achievements and how that is important in my opportunity.

Be different than what your competitors are doing. If you aren’t following the same model as everyone else, candidates will notice you.

Mike Nale is a managing partner of The Brand Management Group, LLC in Honolulu and is the host and co-producer of the upcoming TV show later this year called ?Help Wanted Hawaii.? Mike has over 10 years of experience as a Recruiting Manager, Work Force Planner, and Advisor to some of Honolulu?s Top companies. As one of Hawaii?s most recognized and respected recruiting experts he enjoys mentoring and coaching recruiting teams and volunteers teaching ?Careers with a Purpose? to high school students through Junior Achievement.